I arrived here on Tuesday - after a boring flight. There were 6 Americans on my flight from Chicago going to Hungary, including myself.
My new host parents picked me up at the airport. They are REALLY nice! My host mother, Olga, speaks great English (she teaches it at the school I will go to), and my father, Laszló, speaks a bit. Both have a great sense of humor. They drove me through Budapest a little before going home. We listened to the radio on the way home - most of it was English, and Britney Spears is popular. That last bit doesn't bode well...
We ate gulyás on the way home - ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! If this is the face of standard Hungarian cuisine, I know I'll love this country forever! Also, I was able to see the Zemplén hills about dusk - very beautiful!
On Wednesday, my parents took me to a classical music concert. The music was beautiful, and it was in a beautiful little church, but I was still suffering from jet lag and began to fall asleep toward the end. They understood, thankfully. Then we went to a Baroque dinner - the servers were dressed in more or less period garb, and the recipes used were from that time period. It was really wonderful!
Some of Olga's former students came over today. They had all done very well on their national English exams. We talked for a while - they were really nice.
In the evening, 2 of the family's cousins came over. (That makes them Olga's nieces.) They were very nice, and we talked for quite a while over a long game of badminton. We ate dinner about 9.30 - apparently late dinners are very common.
Csilla (my host sister) left for Japan today, so I went with Esztér and Káta (the cousins from yesterday) to Sárospatak. It was a very short bus ride away. We visited the castle, which was very beautiful! Parts of it look out over a river, and the whole thing was very well restored. Then we ate at an "American" fast-food restaurant. It was rather funny to see the stereotypes of America - a big Western scene with very European-looking "Americans." Then we went to their house for a bit - we watched European MTV. Nothing to write home about, but I was surprised that they actually played music videos. I didn't know they did that anymore.
I felt so independent today - I mailed a letter! The post office is about 15 minutes down the street by foot. Unfortunately, the post office was closed, but I was able to ask a woman where to drop the letter to get it mailed.
Hungarians have a thing for noisy dogs, it seems. There must be at least 5 of them surrounding my house - and they all bark at night. I know that they have these dogs for protection, but it seems a bit excessive - every dog seems to want to bite one's head off.
What a night! After dinner, Olga helped me prepare something to say in Hungarian at the school's opening ceremonies tomorrow. I was really excited, thinking: "OK - I finally get to say something important!" Then I began "pronouncing" these words. It is next to impossible - there are some really weird letters (gy, ő,ö,ü,ű)! I'm really hoping I don't make a fool of myself tomorrow! On the bright side, I read my speech to Laci (my host brother, pronounced "Latzi") and he said he understood, so maybe it won't be that bad...
HAHAHA!! Today was great! My stomach was in knots at the assembly this morning. All the students assembled outside by class. The headmaster read the names of each of the Rotary students - there is another guy from Canada, and a girl from Brazil. My classmates motioned for me to go up, so I did. It turned out I went early, of course. But then a girl introduced me, and I read my piece. It went really well - I didn't stumble once! I think they were impressed.
Then we went to our classrooms - I am in 10.B - my host mom thinks they are a very good class. My blazer full of pins was a great conversation starter - everybody was curious about the pins. The teachers don't speak English for the most part, so a girl named Csilla (one of four in my class) translated the necessary bits for me. Classes are cool - normal days start at 7.45 AM. On Mon. and Fri. we have 6 classes - the rest of the week we have seven. There is a 10 minute break between each class (15 after the 3rd hour) to eat or just hang out. That means that when I have 6 classes, I'm done by 1 o'clock. When I have 7, I'm still done by 2.05!
Good day again today - we had our first Hungarian lesson. It was nice, but we don't have books yet.
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